Robert Skidelsky
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Articles from Vedomosti (Ведомости)

Energy Security in Europe
by Robert Skidelsky
published in Vedomosti | Thursday, April 10, 2008

 
Don’t let economists kid you that globalization has narrowed the scope of politics. What it has done is to multiply the number of economic instruments available for the pursuit of foreign policy aims. That is why economic sanctions are such a prominent part of contemporary diplomacy. There are about one hundred sanction regimes in place round the world, all aiming to change the behaviour of states through the use of economic weapons.
 
Last week’s NATO meeting in Bucharest was a good example of energy diplomacy. Germany, in effect, vetoed the immediate enlargement of NATO to Ukraine and Georgia, against the wishes of George W. Bush. Russia was opposed; but why the difference between America and Europe? The answer is simple. America gets

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The China-Russia Axis
by Robert Skidelsky
published in Vedomosti | Thursday, March 27, 2008

 
How strong is the Chinese-Russian axis? This, and not Tibet, was what I wanted to discuss when I called in on the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing last week –even though the response of western media to the Chinese ‘crackdown’ in Lhasa gave part of the answer to the question.

In the Far East, there is obviously a strong commercial axis. There has been a large influx of Chinese immigrants into Russia, cultivating previously unused land, providing labour for mining and forestry, and setting up retail outlets. The Chinese also control trade across the frontiers; local Russian politicians seem content simply to take their cut. Then there is the oil pipeline which the Russians have yet to decide whether to take all the way to Vladivostok.


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What to Make of Medvedev
by Robert Skidelsky
published in Vedomosti | Thursday, March 13, 2008

 
The advent of the Medvedev presidency has brought into focus two opposite conjectures about Russia. One is represented by Edward Lucas’s book ‘The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces both Russia and the West’. Lucas argues that Russia is trying to rewrite the last chapter of the Cold War. Under Putin it has been using its oil and gas, its strategic alliance with China, and divide and rule tactics to regain control over the old Soviet Empire, reduce Europe to energy dependency, and shift the balance of world power in its favour.

He insists that the west should respond with the collective solidarity it showed in the old Cold War. It should break Russia’s gas monopoly in Europe, restrict access of Russian companies to the western capital


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Russians don’t follow the western script
Thursday, February 28, 2008

 
According to much Western commentary, a new cold war is brewing between Russia and the West. Russians are coming to be seen as enemies, not partners. We are told that they are obsessed with the thought that the West is trying to strangle Russia; that they believe that Russia must stand up for its sovereignty and national identity; and that Russia, flush with oil money, now has the power to do so. This is the message of the current BBC World Service series ‘The Kremlin and the West’. ‘Russia and the West are snarling at one another … the poisoning of a dissident in London, fears over energy supplies, and talk of a new arms race have sent a chill round the world’.
 
This narrative seems remote from the surveys of Russian attitudes conducted

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The Iranian dilemma
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, February 14, 2008

 
In his State of Union Address of 2002, President Bush named Iran as part of the ‘axis of evil’ for ‘exporting terror’ and developing weapons of mass destruction. Since then, a ‘cold war’ has frozen relations between the two countries. I am convinced that had things gone better for America in Iraq, Iran would by now have been bombed by the American or Israeli Air Force. President Ahmadinejad has consistently met American hostility with defiance. Speaking at a rally on Monday, he again denounced western pressure.
 
The question of nuclear proliferation and Iran was thrown open by El Baradei's IAEA report in November 2007 and, above all, by the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) in December 2007. Its conclusion - that Iran had ceased

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